9:30 Club presents at U Street Music Hall - Early Show
1115 U Street NW
Washington, DC, 20009
“What I want to do now is do more of the variety of things I like to do and I want to have more focus on the songwriting aspect,” Robert DeLong says. On the Long Way Down EP, DeLong’s first new music since 2013’s critically praised breakthrough debut, Just Movement, DeLong shows both his diversity and maturity.
From the high-energy intro of the opening title track, which segues into “Acid Rain,” a quirky synth-driven tune, to the funky keys of “Feels Like” and the blend of downtempo and Steely Dan-esque pop of the closing “Isabel St.,” DeLong displays a wide range of styles and influences.
For all the diversity wrapped in unique sounds and styling beats, these four tunes are traditionally written tunes according to DeLong. “Each of those songs are kind of weirdly dressed pop songs,” he says. “They’re more standard format than some of the songs on Just Movement, and that’s something I’ve always liked.”
Just as he did on the superb Just Movement, where he combined what he describes as “rave-tastic” beats with thoughtful and universal lyrics, DeLong showcases his literate skills right from the outset. The EP opens with DeLong singing in the title track, “I’ve been fucking around while you’ve been saving the world. I’ve been out of my mind, I’ve been dreaming things and seeing things. I’ve been smoking the poison, you’ve been slinging your antidote.”
While a number of artists in recent years have mixed electronic sensibilities and heavy beats with singer/songwriter tendencies, few, if any, have done it with the deft touch of DeLong, who sings in “Feels Like, “We’re just trapped, like we’re living in a snow globe.”
Delong is an artist who cemented his rising star status in 2013 with a slew of big-name festival appearances, including Coachella, Lollapalooza and a star-making turn at Made In America in Philadelphia. He delivered another strong set in the midst of Times Square at the CBGB Festival that showcased an outstanding live show. It is growing more impressive with expanding production and visuals to match the one of a kind stage presence, where he mixes his homemade instrumentation that includes video game controllers and monster drum solos from his background in jazz.
While the music on Long Way Down has evolved, DeLong promises to continue to bring an explosive stage show to concertgoers. “The show is inevitably always more bombastic and wild. By nature if I’m playing a festival it’s, ‘How can you make it so everyone feels involved and it’s fun and exciting?’ For me you never want to play a slower version of a song,” he says.
DeLong won a lot of people over with his strong beats, aforementioned drum solos and an engaging live experience that included free face painting, adding to the communal feeling in the audience. But once fans became introduced to DeLong and his music, they delved further into the songs and found stories of relationships, growing up and human nature, something that told DeLong he was on the right track.
“A lot of people got to know me because of festivals and stuff like that. That was probably one of the ways I reached the most people, so a lot of people’s initial forays into my world would have been kind of more from the high-energy party setting,” he says. “But then a lot of these people would go back, buy the album and then come see me at shows and say, ‘I listened to your album, a lot of lyrics and stuff and that’s actually what stuck with me.’ To me, I want to make sure I’m still writing songs that connect with people. That response, more than anything, reinforced that I was writing songs that are consistent with that lyrical focus.
DeLong’s ability to mix beats and lyrics can be attributed to his wide-ranging musical tastes, which go from Flume to Paul Simon. “’Long Way Down,’ that one, I wrote after I’d been listening to Flume a lot, slow tempo, funky rhythms. But then in terms of vocal delivery that would be the moment the Paul Simon creeps in,” he says.
These songs were of course as well shaped by life on the road, especially playing festivals around the world. “Being on tour, especially at festivals, you meet and see so many types of bands, so I’m always just trying to glean things from people’s live shows and ideas and sounds that I like,” he says. “Last year we were on tour in Australia and Architecture in Helsinki were there, they put on such a fun show and there are so many little things about the way they write songs some of that seeps in.”
Lyrically the songs reflect his adventures since Just Movement was released. “Two of the four songs were written on tour. ‘Isabel Street’ was written in South Africa on tour, “Isabel Street’ was where I lived in L.A. at the time, up in Mount Washington,” he says. “And ‘Acid Rain’ I’m pretty sure I wrote most of that song on an airplane flying from a festival somewhere. But it’s so interesting too, ‘Feels Like’ was something I wrote when I had time off, that also changes. ‘Feels Like’ reflects my life going from being a madman on the road to when I’m home and the hardest thing to do is to remember to put that garbage out.”
Ultimately Long Way Down is the next step for a gifted and compelling artist. “My tastes have changed pretty drastically since I released, or at least since I was writing Just Movement. At this point Just Movement, some of the songs are five, six years old. So for me it’s been a slow progression to here, but for the average fan of my music it might seem like it’s going to be a quick leap up to something. I’ve always had pretty eclectic tastes.”
Long Way Down is a precursor to DeLong’s second full-length, scheduled for March of 2015. And he promises just as much musical eclecticism on the sophomore effort.
Ghost Beach are the latest pop pioneers to set the internet ablaze. Barely a year old, the NYC-based duo of Josh Ocean and Eric “Doc” Mendelsohn have already perfected a blend of retro & futuristic, soaring synth-pop sounds that can best be described as Tropical Grit Pop. Nowhere is this more apparent than on their recently released Modern Tongues EP. Josh plays the jilted lover with vocal panache as Eric’s soaring synths, guitars and forever young harmonies are plucked right out of Neverland.
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